Have you ever been “Massage Drunk” and wondered how that happened? The answer: Brainwaves.
Brainwaves are electrical pulses from masses of neurons communicating to each other. Brainwaves change depending on what we’re doing and feeling. The higher the brainwave the more alert and wired we feel. As the brainwaves lower, we tend to feel tired, slow, and dreamy.
Brainwaves are measured in Hertz, which are wave cycles per second. Our brainwaves determine our state of consciousness.
There are several types of brainwaves, but researchers have the done most work on these 4 types: beta, alpha, theta, and delta.
Beta waves are the fastest. When someone shows up for their massage, most of the time they are here. This is our active thinking brain. As humans in our fast paced world, we spend a lot of time here. This is concentration. It shows up in our body posture and our faces. It’s a furrowed brow, tight lips. We’re super chatty. It is overall body tension.
As a licensed massage therapist, one of my intentions is to provide a space and therapeutic bodywork session that allows someone to get the heck out of the beta waves even it’s for 90 minutes.
Alpha waves come in next. They are slower than beta waves. In this state, we are relaxed and alert. To help someone get there, people tend to close their eyes and focus inward. Alpha is the resting state for the brain. These waves help with calmness. Some people settle into this brainwave and stay there during a massage session. And honestly, that is okay. The massage session is for the individual, and they are ultimately in control of their state of mind.
Next level – Theta waves. We’re obviously leveling down into slower and slower brainwaves. In this state, our senses are withdrawn from our external environment, and the focus goes inward. This is the point in a massage where you aren’t quite asleep, but you feel altered. This is where the term “Massage Drunk” happens. You aren’t tuned into the outer world as much, but you remain vaguely aware of your bodywork session in progress. Theta waves induce a deep relaxed state.
Delta waves are even slower. They are generated in deep meditation and dreamless sleep. Healing and regeneration are stimulated in this state. This is why deep restorative sleep and amazing bodywork sessions are so important to our healing processes. This state of consciousness suspends our external awareness. This state is valuable given the level of brainwave activity that we spend a majority of our time in.
So, at your next massage session, the invitation is to go into whatever state of consciousness suits you in that moment. I encourage everyone to settle into the healing that is out there for our minds and bodies when we give ourselves the permission to exit those Beta waves for a period of time, so we can experience restorative bodywork that is available to us in these other states.